Dog

My patient’s sister brought her beautiful golden Cocker Spaniel, Charlie, to the ward today. My patient, I will call him, G, is very ill. He has advanced dementia and is close to the end of his life.

At first thought, a dog, hairy with licking tongue and padding paws shouldn’t be in a hospital, in a ward where there are sick people.

But, when you think about it, when you step outside of the box that is a 21st Century scientifico-clinico construct of  medicine and look back in time to the origins of hospitals, where the concept first developed back in the 1300’s, as a place for sick and tired travellers to rest-up, to receive succour and hospitality, I can’t believe the monks would have had a too rigid rule-book;

There would probably have been prayer and meal times – when to sup your mead and munch on your crust; there might even have been lights-out, more likely, the genesis of this conception – of a word my brother, the Latin scholar loves – Philadelphia – brotherly love – attention, care, value for others as the dominant philosophy would have been respected;

Surely you would have been allowed to bring your dog inside;

Walking around Fountain’s Abbey two weeks ago, I felt the presence of these folk – the beautiful, tranquil surroundings, resonating through the brick-work and the ages.

They wouldn’t have imposed parking fines; surely they would have cared, as much about one another as the travellers stopping-off, carrying with them their Ague, Dropsy or Leprosy.

The constraints of modernity are a strange perversion. Perhaps our attempt to replace the narrowness that must have defined the old-world with the rigidity, the fixedness of today is something we need to re-examine.

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